Monday, January 31, 2011

Stronger Tremors in the Offing!

Stronger Tremors in the Offing!
By Erick A. San Juan
On a daily basis, our country is experiencing earthquakes of varied intensities but most of them are quite weak to be noticed and only the machine at PHILVOCS could detect such earth’s underground movements.
What is being felt right now is the political tremor that is rocking this present administration. Barely seven months in office, PNoy is being bombarded with various problems that are mostly created by the people he appointed to help him run this country. But, with such number of so-called able men and women in his loop, and yet, as if nobody is minding the store.
Until that fateful day which coincided with former President Cory Cojuangco-Aquino’s birthday, the bombing of a passenger bus along Edsa in Makati City, that killed five and wounded thirteen passengers. Speculations from different sectors emerged, from destabilization to terrorism to diversionary tactics, in lieu of some controversial cases being investigated. But what emanate from the president himself, the said bombing was an act of terrorism, in effect putting aside the other possibilities. If this is so, why timed it on the birthday of the former president, the mother of the sitting president? Well, your guess is good as mine.
Unfortunately, this terrorist act that happened in the heart of the business district has made our country back on the travel advisory of some nations headed by the British government. We can’t blame them for releasing the travel alert for their citizens because this administration has just experienced a lapse in governance and accountability that had dragged us all in this unfortunate situation. But the timing of the release of several international index reports that the Philippines is now a rogue state is suspect. Is this part of "laying the predicate" of things to come?'
PNoy and those inside his loop should get their acts together in finding solutions to address the country’s problems, from simple to complex. Why are you in power for when you can’t deliver the promises you made? The nation is still in the wait, wait, wait (until when) and see mode.
This is just a mild tremor compared to the one coming soon – the forthcoming visit of PNoy to China. If our president will not play his cards well in relation to Beijing vis-à-vis Washington, the tremor we are experiencing now will turn into a disastrous “earthquake” of great magnitude. PNoy should learn from the country’s past presidents who “disobey” the perceived master.  They ended up in a very devastating exit. Uncle Sam is a very jealous master, and so the history says…
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PNoy has to take its cue to whatever happened in the recently concluded “summit” of G20 i.e.  the meeting between US president Barack Obama and PROC president Hu Jintao who many pundits believe was simple diplomacy at the least, hyperbole 101. All rhetorics with no concrete achievements to vouch for. It all boils down to how these two giants will play the game of geopolitics.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           As for Uncle Sam, it is still the favorite – the myth of "al Qaeda", as what Obama mentioned in his State of the Union Address: “al Qaeda" and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us” and that, “We have also taken the fight against the "al Qaeda" and their allies abroad.”
Clearly stated, the global war on terror (GWOT) is still on and so is the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) here. Why? This country needs the protection of the big brother (and so they say), that is why the presence of the US troops in the south and the VFA is the most credible excuse (for them) to stay within our territory. And in the process, the south became the haven of state sponsored terrorists and even its training ground. Remember Col. Robert Lansdale operation in the past? How we were terrorized by man-made vampires and "aswangs", so that their satellite bases where they train their soldiers in preparation for the invasion of Vietnam will not be noticed by the public scrutiny?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The US-RP Bilateral Strategic meeting  was just concluded last week at Sofitel. Despite that the VFA was not discussed yet according to newspaper reports, Kurt Campbell,US assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs of the State Department said,"VFA is still vital to US-RP relations." (Mla.Times Jan.31,2011). Reportedly, in the next meeting, VFA will be the main agenda. This is the reason why I am like a broken record always repeating and reminding our government and our leaders to wake up. We have to protect our interests and our people as to the danger of a possible nuclear theater of war. All the ingredients of this man-made calamity is already in placed. That is the paradox of all times!  Need I say more?

Monday, January 24, 2011

It’s Propriety, Indeed!

It’s Propriety, Indeed!
By Erick San Juan

"This is the beauty of the internet.", as I always say. Because even when I was out of the country for five days, I just turned my computer on and surf the internet and there I can find all the latest news here and around the world. In seconds, I can chat with my friends worldwide.

While reading some of the most important news, I was overwhelmed with so many relevant issues besetting this nation, particularly the present administration. And then I tell to myself sadly – as if nobody is minding the store. From the most pressing issues to something trivial, the government should address them immediately but with caution. Like the allegedly carnap/slay problem of our national police, I’ve been hearing a lot of negative feedback even though the case was reportedly “virtually solved”.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the so many crimes confronting our law enforcers. Methinks, It’s as simple as going back to basic, come up with a credible and realistic policy and implement it to address the relentless street crimes. But who will police the police? Here we need a stronger policy against scalawags in uniform who protect crime lords and those parroting the terrorism myth. This way, we can all sleep soundly knowing that the police are there to serve and protect the citizenry.

And for those who are crying for justice from all sectors of the society, pundits believe that the return of the death penalty is not the answer. Especially if our police can address immediately or be responsive in crime solving. We had the death penalty before and it did not serve its purpose of reducing the daily crime rate.

In the economic and political front, the move towards a constitutional change is in the offing. Most of our legislators are actually eyeing the amendment on the economic provisions. A very vital provision that will affect us now and the generations to come. The present Congress should be very careful as to what kind of economic change they want and what the country needs so as to keep up with the global economic trend. It's quite easy to alter some provisions in our constitution but it always boils down to who will benefit – this country or the big foreign corporats (a.k.a. oligarchs)?

Our former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, in his conferment speech at the UP law recently said that this is the right time to implement such amendments. After all, there are so many problems confronting the already existing laws that need to be amended to correct the flaws in it. We have to address first the problems affecting the stomach of every Filipino.

The VFA (visiting forces agreement) issue should be tackled immediately. We are always with the American side but when can we get what's due us? Why do we have to be contented with second and most of the times, third hand war materials? Are we that dumb and inferior to be short changed just like that? These are just some of the things that needs attention and not those issues that are only beneficial for the grandstanding of some public officials, both elected and appointed.

Lastly, as for our President’s choice of an automobile, just a brotherly unsolicited advice coming from a lover of nice cars too. Its really out of tune this Porsche sports car purchase that you made. The perception is that you are not different from the previous administration who dined and wined lavishly courtesy of a “political friend”. We are talking here of propriety, Mr. President, especially those around you who forgot to give you a sound advice that could affect your credibility, the citizen's trust and confidence. If you want people to be united in support of your administration’s undertakings, be sensitive enough to feel their needs – not just superficially but most of all what affects their values in life.

We will pray for you and for this nation’s survival in this very interesting times.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Terror Threat in RP, What Else is New?

Terror Threat in RP, What Else is New?
By Erick San Juan

From Wikileaks to Maplecroft to FTI-International Risk to travel (terror) alert
advisory from different countries, the list seems to be growing as the perceived
secessionists and bandits in the south persisted in the midst of the US troops
in their “virtual military bases” there. Thanks to the Visiting Forces

So, what else is new? As if the lives of our fellowmen in the south has gone any
better with the presence of the American troops when we speak of peace and

Why do we still have the secessionists and bandits? And why the persistent
“brand” of the south as the training ground for the world’s mythically famous
al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah?

Added to this are the people within the supposed loop of responsible agents who
take care of our national security, who are the ones creating fear among our
citizenry, by adding fuel to the fire on the terrorism myth and placing the
perceived threat in the limelight. So we hear such reactions from our neighbors
and supposed “allies” in the process.

We are glad that the palace through Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda,
corrected the FTI-International Risk (a security consultancy) report that the
Philippines is lagging behind its neighbors, such as Thailand and Indonesia, in
containing the terror threats.

"We disagree that we have overtaken Indonesia or Southern Thailand. Remember
that our pool of recruits is a lot smaller than that of Indonesia," he said,
adding that the government "monitors all threats, whether in the south or in the
city. But again, it is not as grave as it has been assessed."

The Philippine government is waging war against different armed groups such as
the Abu Sayyaf, the left-wing New People's Army and the secessionist Moro
Islamic Liberation Front.

But the government should not be contented in just releasing press (praise)
statements, they should be coupled with action – that is what this country
needs. Enough with rhetorics and deceits. Lets call spade a spade. Once and for
all, PNoy’s administration should decide on the fate of the Visiting Forces
Agreement (VFA). Why? because it’s the paradox of so many years past since the
Americans set foot on our soil. They are here and so is the threat of terrorism.
That is a big B.S. !

As an observer and analyst of events unfolding in our country, the terror threat
is just the tip of the iceberg, what I fear most (and a number of Filipinos who
understand the real situation) is the balkanization of Mindanao and eventually
the "salami"-zation of the Philippines. Meaning, gradually subdividing our
nation state into different protectorate units like what happened in
Yugoslavia. If this terror myth will persist and so is the presence of Uncle
Sam’s troops in the south, we are really heading for a big trouble and the
mutually assured destruction (MAD) of the republic is not far behind.

Every Filipino should be vigilant and specially cautious for the possible
confluence of events in this land. We must remind this administration that if
the president is really for the common good, now is the time to decide – are we
really getting what is due us from this so called “treaty”?

God help us especially the present leadership of PNoy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Crisis by design!

Crisis by design!
By Erick San Juan

The world was (and still is) in the grip of suspense and anxiety as the tensest flashpoint – the Korean Peninsula could start another sequel to what they experienced some fifty years ago. A Korean War part 2 is not far-fetched if the manipulators of events will push through with their agenda and drag the whole region (and the world) to a war.

What has transpired since the Cheonan incident, and recently the shelling of a South Korean island, had worsen the relations between the two Koreas. Translation – could be a proxy war in the offing by the two giants i.e. U.S. and China. Why? Because some analysts treated the incidents as just plain incidents, for there were no “true investigations” that are acceptable to all the concerned parties. Until, of course, when Washington came to the rescue on the side of South Korea that actually exacerbated the situation in the process. Let us not forget China who is always on the side of its ally, North Korea.

From the point of F. William Engdahl in his article The Korean Crisis: Cui Bono? : In 1999 this writer spoke with a former US Ambassador to Beijing, a career CIA officer and close friend of the Bush family. The former diplomat stated, in an incautious moment, “If North Korea did not exist, we would have to create it. They allow us to keep our fleet in the Japanese waters despite the end of the Cold War.” Perhaps the sudden heating up of Korea tensions is also related to a longer-term Pentagon agenda for the region. If we ask Cui Bono, the clear reply is "Washington".

Meaning, Washington’s geopolitical ambitions have critical impact on the failure to resume the six-party talks (the talks include North and South Korea, the US, Japan, China and Russia) because the international recognition of the North Korean regime and the normalization of the situation on the Korean peninsula may question the need for U.S. military presence in the Northeast Asia and the disposition of the system of theater missile defense.

Simultaneously, Beijing considers North Korea as a strategic bridgehead for its long-term goal to spread China’s political, financial and economic influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Actually, China is using its favorite tactic of trade and investment cooperation, supplemented by abstracts of ethnic, cultural affinity and common values to reach its purpose.

With the above-mentioned intentions of the two giants, the real crisis building up between the two Koreas are designed to sustain a scenario, which means – a great deal of saber rattling, especially the show of military might by Washington near the contested waters. So far, hostilities is still far for reaching that boiling point. Same with North Korea, by using said tactic, it will force talks where the West will agree to a substantial aid package in return for a guarantee that Pyongyang will not produce further nuclear weapons. Both sides want wealth, not world war three.
As what has pointed out by Nuclear deterrence guru, Glenn Snyder described the phenomenon, of which there are several examples, as the "stability-instability paradox".

Beijing military hawks fought Russia over the Zhebao island on the Ussuri river in 1969 to strengthen their political position without actually risking a large-scale war that would have destroyed them. Pakistan fought a limited war with India over Kashmir in 1999, a year after both countries tested their nuclear weapons.

The real fear now is that protracted North Korean aggression will push South Korea and Japan to reconsider their long-held taboo on possessing nuclear weapons.

North Korea has stolen the spotlight if not the thunder from United States nuclear envoy. US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth made a quick trip to the Northeast Asian capitals this week with an adroitly timed call for resuming six-party talks on its nukes with "no preconditions". The North Korean proposal could hardly have been better timed considering that it came right after Bosworth in Seoul got through saying there was no point "in talks for the sake of talks". Then Bosworth was off to Beijing, where he propounded the same message along with the usual plea for China to please reign in its North Korean protectorate. (“North Korea goes gunning for aid” by Donald Kirk)

In order to reach a stability in the region, all interested parties should promote the concept of establishing a multilateral security mechanism in Northeast Asia as a basis for the regime to maintain peace and to exclude from consideration the proposal of the White House to establish a certain coordination mechanism to be led by them.

Together with the rest of the peace-loving countries, we adhere to the peaceful means of resolving this crisis, may it be designed by some globalist elite.

Who wants a world war anyway?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Visiting Forces, Not Anymore!

Visiting Forces, Not Anymore!

By Erick San Juan

Come February this new year 2011 will mark the 13th year since the signing of the Visiting Forces Agreement by the representatives of Washington and Manila as an Executive Agreement. After more than a year, in May 1999, the Philippine Senate passed the VFA as a treaty (even though the US Congress never recognized this as a treaty).

Looking back to more than a decade of this “treaty”, and now we are entering a new decade in the midst of the so-called review, our military is still one of the weakest militaries in this part of the world. What has transpired in the past twelve years or so clearly showed nothing significantly beneficial to us, especially to our armed forces. And worst, a lot of negative feedback were written and reported by our fellowmen as well as foreign writers.

A certain report that came out in the local papers just recently (and posted online) was from the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) wherein a Zamboanga City-based journalist experienced the arrogance from the “visiting American troops”.

As what reported by the NUJP director Julie Alipala, who is based in Zamboanga, quoted a local television reporter as saying that one of the six American soldiers guarding the task force headquarters told the news crew: “I am ordering you not to take footages.” When one of the reporters asked what the basis for the order was, the American replied: “I don’t understand you, but don’t make me take your camera.”

Sought for clarification, Westmincom spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang clarified the American soldier’s actions, saying that the journalists were in a secure facility “and persons going there need clearance” to shoot video and other images.
But as reported by Alipala, the news crew was taking footage outside the task force headquarters.

Even granting Cabangbang’s explanation is appropriate, we maintain that foreigners still have absolutely no authority to tell us Filipinos what we can or cannot do in our own country, much less threaten to confiscate our property. If they had any issue, they should have conveyed it to their local counterparts who could then have relayed the matter to the journalists concerned.

As far as we are concerned, the task force headquarters is not sovereign American territory; it is Philippine territory that the visiting foreign troops are just allowed to use as part of a defense agreement.

The said reported incident only justify what we kept on saying and have written that the US troops are here to stay. And, that we don’t have visiting forces anymore. The visit became permanent, meaning, the VFA, despite the growing clamor for its termination, “legalizes” the so-called mobile and flexible forward operating bases here. These bases are not limited to training and capacity building. They go further by allegedly providing “logistical and intelligence support.” This term is so broad that under US interpretation, it allows actual immersion in combat operations.

“There is high probability as well as existing accounts that the US forces are engaged in combat operations. The US Institute for Peace, a US government funded institution, described the role of the US forces deployed in Mindanao in its February 2008 report. The deployment of US forces in Mindanao was not for humanitarian missions or civic actions, but for specific military objectives”. (Robert D. Kaplan, “Imperial Grunts,” Atlantic Monthly, October 2008, available online)

With the unending war in the south, may it be against the secessionists and/or the bandits, and the growing tension between the US and China via the Korean Peninsula, this country’s leadership has given up our armed forces in the hands of Uncle Sam through the VFA. Statements from the people of the VFA commission had clearly stated that to do away with the VFA is too radical (translation – VFA will stay and so are the American troops). Even its review will be far-fetched based from President Noy’s statement that the VFA has its benefits.

Again, we are not against the Americans but important things had to be clarified and “real benefits” should be given to us. The glaring reality is here, whether we like it or not - because this VFA could make our country the GROUND ZERO of the looming US-China War.

God forbid!